State College senior Jack Sheehan didn’t want the boys’ lacrosse season to end Thursday night, so he adopted a simple motto: Step on the gas.
Behind two goals and one assist, he never seemed to take his foot off the pedal as the Little Lions powered past Erie McDowell 7-5 at Memorial Field in the PIAA Class 3A subregional. State College will now play the No. 3 team out of District 7 in the first round of the PIAA championships on Tuesday.
“I didn’t want this to be my last game, not on this field especially,” Sheehan said. “I was going all out and taking every shot I could possibly take.”
There was maybe just a single 10-second span where the Little Lions did take their foot off the gas, and McDowell made them pay. With seven seconds left in the first half, McDowell goalie Cole Sherik passed the ball upfield to another teammate, who passed it to a waiting Jamie Allaway in front of State College’s net. Allaway then flicked it in from about 5 yards out — with one second left — to tie the game at 3-3 heading into halftime.
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Sheehan and Co. made sure they didn’t make the same mistake twice.
The Little Lions dialed up the intensity in the second half and scored twice to seize a 5-3 advantage. They led the rest of the way, and the game was never really in doubt from that point.
State College’s Andy Mader sprinted from the back to score that first goal in the third quarter, while Sheehan padded that cushion with another later in the period.
“Probably the turning point of the game was when Andy came down in the second half and scored,” Little Lions coach Jeffrey King said. “And that lit a fire under a few of our guys.”
McDowell cut the lead to 5-4 with 37 seconds left in the third quarter. But Sheehan and the Little Lions learned their lesson; they didn’t let up — and scored two more insurance goals, thanks to Brady Dorner and Ryan Franks. Overall, State College out-shot McDowell by better than a 2-to-1 margin (29-14).
Franks finished with two goals and one assist. Five different State College players scored goals overall, including Franks (2), Sheehan (2), Mader, Dorner and Paul Olivett.
“That was the kind of game we needed,” King added.
With the first round of the state tournament less than a week away, Sheehan wants to see an even better performance against the next opponent. He’s not about to abandon his motto now —so he wants to see how driven this team is to advance.
“We want to go farther than we’ve ever gone and just push ourselves to the maximum effort,” he said.